House Hacking Stories in Orange County, CA

34 Replies

I'm in mid-20's and have been saving to buy a property to house hack. I live in Orange County and the properties are pretty expensive. I would love to hear about any successful (or unsuccessful) house hack that you have worked on in SoCal. 

@Kina De Santis

Hi Kina! I'm in the same situation your in currently: I'm 22, I'm new and very interested in real estate in the Orange County area, I'm also looking to start house hacking, but I don't have enough saved to pay for the down payment just yet (so congrats on that). I've spoke with a few people of how to get started, so I would suggest reaching out to a couple of real estate agents (either on BP or your own network) to figure out the type of agent you want to work with and who can really walk you through the process of purchasing your first property. I'd also suggest talking with a few lenders to find out how much of a loan you qualify for. I know the Orange County area is expensive but you might be qualified for a $700k loan and you'll be able to look into more expensive propertys. I'd also suggest finding which areas in Orange County you want to purchase in and having a max budget for how much your willing to buy a property for, and stick to it. I know I'm new to real estate like yourself but I hope this helps you at least get the ball rolling!

Hi @Kina De Santis

I have yet to house hack myself, but keep in mind house hacking in California may be different from other states and this also depends on your strategy. For example, I know people who house hack near Anaheim, CA and market their property for guests visiting Disneyland or conventions. They cash flow pretty well, but of course require more work since they are running a mini-hotel.

If your strategy is to house hack to a long term tenant typically you wont cash flow, but of course your mortgage is a hell of all cheaper and if you're lucky you can break even. Bet your cards on living for very cheap or near free AND appreciation here in California. Another thing to consider is California is a tenant friendly state, not a landlord friendly state. Read up on the new Rent Control laws AND if you need to evict you need a valid reason.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Good luck! 

@Bryndon Bush

Hey Bryndon! Saving for a house hack in OC is definitely harder because the properties are so much more expensive than some of the out of state deals that we hear about a lot. My boyfriend and I have been saving for a couple of years. We even took side hustles like tutoring and consulting to grow savings faster. 

I'm actually a newly licensed Realtor. Just joined First Team in Tustin! Really enjoying learning from other Realtors and others in the real estate space through First Team and Bigger Pockets.

I think one of the hardest things to do so far has been to find other around my age group who are in a similar mindset about saving, house hacking and investing. It's really cool to see someone with that kind of mindset in OC! How did you find those people who you spoke to in the beginning?

@Jason Martinez

I do like that Airbnb model near Anaheim. There's a lot of people and I think that makes a lot of sense. It's great to hear that and I'm going to consider that more seriously. As of now, I've been looking around the Orange Circle area so that I can rent out rooms to Chapman Students. I went to University there and can still pull some connections nearby to hopefully screen for better tenants. Have you heard of anyone pulling this strategy off in Orange? Properties are a little older and expensive here. 

I appreciate your comment about the long term tenants not leading to rising rents. I think being near the Orange Circle and renting to students would be one of the benefits of renting to new cycles of tenants, but of course, there's the added cost of keeping the property clean and destruction-free. Have you heard of any rehabs gone bad or gone well in the Old Towne Orange area? 

@Kina De Santis

Unfortunately, I have yet to meet people around my age who are serious about getting into real estate, and most of the people I’ve talked to about real estate and house hacking were seasoned vets. But I’ve met almost all of them through different meetups, and reaching out to people on BP.

And I’m also a resident in Tustin, so I’m sure we’ll cross paths someday!

@Bryndon Bush I have a couple friends who are getting into Bigger Pockets, FIRE, House Hacking, etc. Maybe we can make a happy hour happen in Dec or Jan. I definitely want to learn from others' perspectives and see what others are doing to make it happen! 

Which meetups did you attend? I've been looking at the events page, but haven't made it to a meetup yet. 

@Kina De Santis

I think having a happy hour to meet like minded individuals in their 20’s is a great idea!

And I’ve been to a variety of meetups but the ones I liked the most were Orange County Real Estate Investor Networking in Lake Forest, and Real Estate Investing Solutions in Long Beach. And the one in Lake Forest is having a meetup this Monday if your interested.

Originally posted by @Kina De Santis :

@Jason Martinez

I do like that Airbnb model near Anaheim. There's a lot of people and I think that makes a lot of sense. It's great to hear that and I'm going to consider that more seriously. As of now, I've been looking around the Orange Circle area so that I can rent out rooms to Chapman Students. I went to University there and can still pull some connections nearby to hopefully screen for better tenants. Have you heard of anyone pulling this strategy off in Orange? Properties are a little older and expensive here. 

I appreciate your comment about the long term tenants not leading to rising rents. I think being near the Orange Circle and renting to students would be one of the benefits of renting to new cycles of tenants, but of course, there's the added cost of keeping the property clean and destruction-free. Have you heard of any rehabs gone bad or gone well in the Old Towne Orange area? 

College students always need a rental. However, keep in mind that the turnover is much higher than long term tenants. I have not personally experienced renting to college students, but I am sure it requires more work than a long term tenant. Different types of college students moving in/out constantly. The benefit is that you wont really have to deal with evictions because they pay on time and you can rent per room versus the whole house to one family. It will definitely test your tolerance. I suggest reaching out to some California investors that rent out to college students to increase your knowledge and understanding. 

As far as rehabs there is ALWAYS some that go bad (those that don't do their due diligence) and some that go great (those that do their due diligence). Just like with anything the more wisdom you have (knowledge that you actually apply) the likelihood of success is that much better. Personally, I do not invest nor have I had investors purchase property in Old Towne Orange. I just don't prospect there. So, my knowledge will not do much help there. 

A regular meetup that I go to is in Los Alamitos and the same individual hosts one in Newport Beach as well. They are mostly OOS investors.

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/521/topics/774757-long-beach-los-alamitos-seal-beach-and-beyond-real-estate-meet-up

@Jason Martinez  @Bryndon Bush @Kina De Santis

Hey Guys, 

Fellow OC investor here in his early twenties. I invest out of state but am heavily considering house hacking in OC for my next project. I agree with Jason's sentiment, due to costs here you would be lucky to break even as far as cashflow goes. But that still beats renting! You're building up equity and taking advantage of California's insane appreciation. One idea I have been considering is doing a 203k loan to find a very distressed property and doing a value add approach (maybe even add an ADU due to all the new incentives) and that would have a possibility to cashflow a tiny bit or break even. Due to the pessimistic outlook with regulation around AirBnB's I think house hacking via AirBnB is only a good idea if you can ALSO make it work with a long term rental in case things go south.

I also attend the meetup in Los Alamitos that Jason mentioned and I can attest to his statement that it is a great meetup but is definitely focused on out of state investors (most seemingly invest in Indianapolis like Jason and I). I would LOVE to do a happy hour or a meetup that is geared towards younger people in their 20's that have the real estate investing mindset and discuss creative ways to house hack here in OC. Let me know what you guys think!

@Kina De Santis there are plenty of opportunities to to house hack in SoCal, just depends on your goals, needs and expectations. Prices are more expensive, sure, but so are the rents. Don’t let’s the prices intimidate you, do the math and see what works for you.

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Best of luck!!

@Jason Martinez Thanks for the advice - appreciate the info and suggestions. I am going to look for some local investors, especially those who work with renting to college students and see what their experience has been. Currently in the due diligence stage myself and working to learn more about rehab before I can make the right move. 

I won't be able to make that Meetup, but I'm goign to shoot for the next one they host. Thanks for the link. 

@Aseel Yerunkar How has your experience been investing out of state? That is definitely something I want to consider in the future. OC is expensive!!! It's interesting that you mention adding an ADU, I'm starting my research on that and think that my be the best way for me to add value to some of the older properties in orange.Which incentives are you looking at?

Very down for a happy hour. Which area of OC are you located at? I'll shoot you a message! 

@Kina De Santis doing so here in San Diego and know people closer to your neck of the woods luxury house hacking. Feel free to shoot me a pm anytime would be happy to give any tips I can.

Hey - my wife and I actually did it in Orange County (Laguna Hills). We bought an SFH with a MIL suite that paid over half our mortgage. I talk about it in episode 4 of the Real Estate 365 Podcast. Let me know if you want to chat!

okay this might be a bit of a long response but here it goes. 

House hacking in orange county is difficulty(duh we all knew that). Basically what you're going to encounter is either duplex's in the older areas of the OC aka santa ana, fullerton, la habra area that aren't usually rehabbed so need a good amount of repairs, or you start seeing a lot of duplex's along the coast but I think most of us young people that want to house hack don't/can't dish out a million dollars plus for a multi family. So in my opinion that usually leaves a few options. 

1. you can deal with the repairs. Either get a hard money loan and do the repairs to update these older homes or a 203k loan to get rehab funds and fix up the property and get one of those older but cheaper multi families in those areas. 

2. Get roomates. Easiest way to househack but you give up privacy. If you don't care, rent it out to friends, or simply find good people to rent rooms to (maybe students since they'd be more likely to rent just a room) then this is definitely the easiest way to househack a home. I'm actually helping someone right now try to find a condo or SFR to do this in because he wants to move out to the OC but we know rents are crazy high.

3. Lastly, get a property with a MIL suite or ADU. They come few and far between but some homes in the cheaper parts of the OC do have them attached. Only thing is most agents list them as SFR properties which means you need to be scouring the MLS for those rare opportunities. Then you can live in that separate suit/ADU, and rent out the main house, or vice versa, and have someone else paying most of your mortgage! And most importantly(at least to me) still have your privacy.


So thats my opinions on the topic, also as a rare twenty something that also wishfully wants to house hack. It's possible just have to look harder than areas in the midwest where cheap duplexes are everywhere. 

As far as meetup goes I am aware of the los alamitos meetup meetup because the host of that meetup actually co hosts another meetup with myself and my partner in newport beach! Next one should be scheduled for December 10th so if you want more info feel free to PM me. We do focus more so on out of state but we always have people that like to invest in state and our meetups are usually in a roundtable like format where people can freely ask any question so its a good time. Planning a happy hour would be cool tho! Although our meetup does usually have drinks if thats what you guys are looking for at the happy hour lol 

Hope I helped! 


@Kina De Santis I am from Irvine and working on my license as well. At first we wanted to do wholesale but we had a tough time getting contracts to be signed in the OC area. So we switched to BRRR and looking for out of state deals. Right now we're looking for private money lenders to finance the gap for the hard money that we will be approved of.

I wish I had that mentality when I was at my 20s. I'm 32 now, if it's okay with you guys let's connect. 

Originally posted by @Nick Giulioni :

Hey - my wife and I actually did it in Orange County (Laguna Hills). We bought an SFH with a MIL suite that paid over half our mortgage. I talk about it in episode 4 of the Real Estate 365 Podcast. Let me know if you want to chat!

 That's amazing. I'm going to listen to the podcast today! It's hard to find podcasts of OC house hacks. Did you guys add the MIL suite or was it there already? Would love to chat and learn more. I'll shoot you a message! 

Originally posted by @Jacob Repreza :

okay this might be a bit of a long response but here it goes. 

House hacking in orange county is difficulty(duh we all knew that). Basically what you're going to encounter is either duplex's in the older areas of the OC aka santa ana, fullerton, la habra area that aren't usually rehabbed so need a good amount of repairs, or you start seeing a lot of duplex's along the coast but I think most of us young people that want to house hack don't/can't dish out a million dollars plus for a multi family. So in my opinion that usually leaves a few options. 

1. you can deal with the repairs. Either get a hard money loan and do the repairs to update these older homes or a 203k loan to get rehab funds and fix up the property and get one of those older but cheaper multi families in those areas. 

2. Get roomates. Easiest way to househack but you give up privacy. If you don't care, rent it out to friends, or simply find good people to rent rooms to (maybe students since they'd be more likely to rent just a room) then this is definitely the easiest way to househack a home. I'm actually helping someone right now try to find a condo or SFR to do this in because he wants to move out to the OC but we know rents are crazy high.

3. Lastly, get a property with a MIL suite or ADU. They come few and far between but some homes in the cheaper parts of the OC do have them attached. Only thing is most agents list them as SFR properties which means you need to be scouring the MLS for those rare opportunities. Then you can live in that separate suit/ADU, and rent out the main house, or vice versa, and have someone else paying most of your mortgage! And most importantly(at least to me) still have your privacy.

So thats my opinions on the topic, also as a rare twenty something that also wishfully wants to house hack. It's possible just have to look harder than areas in the midwest where cheap duplexes are everywhere. 

As far as meetup goes I am aware of the los alamitos meetup meetup because the host of that meetup actually co hosts another meetup with myself and my partner in newport beach! Next one should be scheduled for December 10th so if you want more info feel free to PM me. We do focus more so on out of state but we always have people that like to invest in state and our meetups are usually in a roundtable like format where people can freely ask any question so its a good time. Planning a happy hour would be cool tho! Although our meetup does usually have drinks if thats what you guys are looking for at the happy hour lol 

Hope I helped! 

Thank you for the long response! It's appreciated. I've been saving a small budget for rehab or, in a best case scenario, add an ADU. I'm planning to rent out the extra rooms whether I find a multifamily property or a SFR. I like the idea of renting out to college students in a house that I'm house hacking because I can have some control over the quality of tenants.

I would love to come to the Los Al Meetup. I'm not really trying to start a new meetup or event, more just get to know a couple people better person-to-person and talk about saving/goals. I really only have a few friends who are taking a similar strategy as my boyfriend and I right now. I'll DM you about the Los Al meetup on Dec 10. I think I can make it and would love to be there! Thank you again! 

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